Typography

 

 

On 14 March 1900 a young student named Floris Stempel sent a letter to a group of his friends, saying: "Hereby the undersigned invites you politely to grace us with your presence in one of the upper rooms of Café-Bar 'Oost-Indië', at number 2, Kalverstraat, on Sunday morning at 9 hours and 3 quarters, to discuss the establishment of an entirely new Football Club."

What Stempel wrote was, in fact, not completely true: the football club he wanted to establish was not "entirely new". Stempel had been chairman of a low-key football club some six years earlier, in early 1894, or possibly late 1893.

The players at the time referred to themselves as a 'club' because one of them, Han Dade, possessed his own leather football. Moreover, they officially rented a lawn in Willemspark, Amsterdam-South, to play their games. The name of the club: Ajax, after the ancient Greek warrior

The oldest ever Ajax team photograph from 1900 shows the team lined up in formation. Goalkeeper Cor Kist wears a woollen hat and holds the ball. The oldest Ajax line-up we know today is completed by defenders Harbord and Dijkstra, midfielders Brockman, Holst and Hertel and forwards Pasteuning, Stallmann, Geissler, Martaré and Van der Laan.

The photograph also shows that the Ajax of 1900 abandoned red and white as its club colours. The team wore the colours of the Amsterdam crest -- black and red -- presumably to underscore Ajax's metropolitan origins. An extra advantage of those colours was the fact that most men wore black clothing and black trousers anyway, so that a special club jersey wasn't required.

The first, simple Ajax uniform was all-black, with a red sash tied around the waists of the players. This uniform lasted less than a year. The '1st Anniversary' team photograph from March 1901 shows that it was soon replaced by the the first official Ajax kit: a jersey with vertical red and white stripes and 'dark' shorts (black, brown, grey - whatever the men had in their wardrobe). This kit was also used by the 'prehistoric' Ajax of the mid-1890s.

21 May 1911 was the most glorious day in Ajax history: the day that Ajax grabbed its fifth and decisive point in the promotion/relegation play-offs. Promotion to the First Class, the highest level of Dutch football, was a fact!

Sadly it wasn't given to the club's founder, the honourable Floris Stempel, to witness the triumph. He resigned as Ajax's first chairman in January 1910, after having accepted a job in the West Indies. Many members of the Ajax family waved him goodbye, but tragic news followed two days later. His ship had gone down with all hands. Stempel never made it to the West Indies. He didn't get any further than the coast of France.

The most important effect of that promotion was (understandably) not rated at its true value at the time: Ajax had to change its uniform, for the simple reason that another First Class side (Sparta from Rotterdam) had exactly the same strip. According to NVB regulations the newcomer to the league had to design a new kit. In the summer of 1911 Ajax chose for a white jersey with a red vertical bar running over chest and back - and white shorts. Indeed: the Ajax shirt that is now one of the most recognized football jerseys in the world.

 

 

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